January 27, 2020

E. coli O26 Outbreak Associated With Homegrown Restaurants in Washington State; Lawsuits May Be Filed

King County Public Health is investigating an E. coli O26 outbreak that is associated with Homegrown restaurants in the Washington state area. The restaurants are located in Redmond, Kirkland, and Seattle on Westlake Avenue. Four people are sick in this outbreak. No one has been hospitalized, and no one has died.

E coli O26 Homegrown

This outbreak is caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) bacteria, that can cause serious illness. Four people have tested positive for the pathogenic bacteria after eating food from three different Homegrown restaurants in King County.

All four patients ate the chicken pesto sandwich from one of those locations. Three of the patients are adults, and one is a child. The illness onset dates ranges from April 24 to May 6, 2018. Exact meal dates are not known for all four patients.

Environmental Health investigators visited the three locations where the patients reported eating. During the field inspections, officials identified risk factors, which included hand washing facilities violations at two of the there locations, and a cold holding temperature violation at the other. These violations were discussed with the restaurant managers.

The ingredients used to make the chicken pesto sandwich were investigated as well. All Homegrown locations in King Count have stopped selling this sandwich while the investigation is occurring. And any products related to this sandwich have been put on hold. All three restaurants are going to complete a thorough cleaning and disinfection.

The restaurants were reinspected on May 25, 2018, to confirm that cleaning was completed. Officials are investigating whether any employee has a recent diarrheal illness.

Three of the four people sickened tested positive for STEC O26. All three isolates had the same genetic fingerprint, meaning that there is most likely a common source of infection. Genetic fingerprinting for the other ill person can’t be completed. This specific genetic fingerprint has never been seen in the United States before.

Anyone who has eaten at Homegrown restaurants and who has developed diarrhea, especially if it is bloody, within 10 days should consult with their doctor. STEC infections are reportable infections, and your doctor will tell public health officials about this illness.

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